Kempe, Rhett Department of Inorganic Chemistry II, Universität Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany.
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Bond orders, formally the number of electron pairs that contribute positively to a chemical bond between atoms, matter fundamentally. This becomes obvious by considering the simple hydrocarbons ethane, ethylene, and acetylene, which have a bond order of one, two, and three, respectively. All three consist of two carbon atoms linked via a single, double, or triple bond. Ethane, the molecule having the single bond, is a low-value compound, especially compared to ethylene or acetylene. Because of its low reactivity (it does not react easily with most compounds), ethane is mainly burned to generate heat. Ethylene, having the carbon–carbon double bond, is much more reactive. It is the basis of the most important synthetic polymer, polyethylene (PE). We are surrounded by PE use in everyday life, including plastic bags, car parts, packing material, water pipes, and artificial hips, to name some applications. Acetylene, having a triple bond, is also of great importance in the chemical industry. It is already too reactive and has to be treated with much care to avoid explosions.
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